The 2012-13 season is mercifully over, and despite having the #1 ranked recruiting class in the country, Kentucky failed to make the NCAA Tournament, and were unceremoniously dispatched in the First Round of the NIT by Robert Morris. Hard to see things being any different in 2013-14. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of: On Tuesday, 5 star prospect Jahlil Okafor tweeted that he is visiting the University of Kentucky on September 9. This is a bad sign. He had previously announced that he would be attending Big Blue Madness on October 18, but apparently he had a change of heart. So instead, he’ll visit on a Monday night, which is probably the least eventful night on any college campus. In fact, there is so little to do in Lexington on this particular Monday night that Okafor will be taken to see an “Alumni game,” which is a contest between a bunch of players who don’t even play for Kentucky anymore. And it gets worse. In this particular instance, most of the players aren’t even from the state of Kentucky. Instead, they are from places like Chicago, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama and West Virginia. Of course, this assumes that these guys even agree to show up, which none of them has promised me they will do. What John Calipari has apparently forgotten is that what matters most to young recruits nowadays is the on-campus experience. No wonder Duke is the perceived leader for Okafor’s services. Who wants to go watch a bunch of ex-players trudge up down the court when you can surround yourself with unattractive Northerners chanting contrived cheers and sporting blue face paint?
*Mysterious Ways: The NCAA has yet to clear incoming Kentucky freshmen James Young and the Harrison twins. Given the late date, it is pretty clear at this point that all three players will be forced to sit out the entire 2013-14 season. Usually, the NCAA acts quickly, decisively and fairly. If one remembers, the NCAA cleared Duke roughly 30 seconds after allegations arose that former standout Lance Thomas walked into a New York City jewelry store with $30,000 cash in his pocket, and walked out with $100,000 of jewelry, even though it was never explained where or how Thomas got the cash or the $70,000 of credit. Likewise, the NCAA excused North Carolina from any wrongdoing even though it was proven that they had been engaging in widespread academic fraud for years, and that they had been routinely and generously handing out fake degrees to UNC players like so much Halloween candy. At this point, as far as UK is concerned, no news is awful news. As evidenced above, the NCAA rarely gets it wrong, and when it does, so what.
*I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: On Monday, 5 star point guard Emmanuel Mudiay announced he has cut his list to five schools: Kentucky, Kansas, SMU, Baylor and Oklahoma State. This does not bode well for Kentucky. You don’t need to be Stephen Hawking to figure out that this only gives UK a 20% chance of landing the superstar. Meanwhile, each of the other schools has an 80% chance (collectively). Most Big Blue fans probably don’t need to be reminded that the Cats’ chances of landing Shabazz Muhammad were significantly higher than that (50%), as were their chances of getting Andrew Wiggins (25%). And both of those players picked against UK before the disaster that was the 2012-13 season (not including Wiggins). Mudiay was perceived to be a lock for UK before this bombshell dropped, so it will be interesting to see if Calipari alters his recruiting strategy of going out and getting the best players in the country.
* On this date: On this date in 2009, Pete Thamel and Pat Forde were doing the Lord’s work by digging through dumpsters and knocking on doors in Birmingham, tirelessly working to prove that a high school student had possibly taken a class out of order.